The iPad and Autism

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Today was a pretty crazy day for me. First, I had an appointment with my son's teacher and the school district addictive technology team to talk about needed technology for our son. Second, I got to watch (belatedly) the iPad 2 keynotepresentation. What I didn't expect was to have the two be so closely related. The meeting went really well. We first answered some general behavior questions with the social worker to evaluate our son, who, due to his lack of verbal skills, tends to not do well with standardized testing in this area. We discussed his behavior, challenges, goals, and left knowing they were getting good data about our son in order to help him. Then we met with the teacher and the occupational therapist, speech therapist, and representatives from the school district to discuss assisted communication devices for our son, as he is non-verbal. They discussed the basics, what progress he has made, his limitations, and how incredibly intelligent he is (which, of course, made me proud). They then discussed the tools that could be used to help him.They started with a standard voice enabled tablet with pictures, from an 8 to 32 cell device. The teacher already had a 16 cell device that she uses, and wanted to start him on that. Then, interestingly enough, another student was already being tested on the iPad wi Proloquo2go, a very expensive app that is perhaps the most comprehensive bit of software for assisted communication. The size of the iPad screen makes it a great tool, though it can also work on an iPod Touch or iPhone. Then we started talking about the iPad in general, with which the teachers and therapists were all impressed. We explained about the apps we had tried, mentioned the apps we had reviewed, and provided some suggestions on some of the very decent free apps available. I came away from that meeting with a distinct feeling that we needed to budget in the future for Proloquo2go. Then later this evening I had the chance to check out the iPad 2 keynote. The first video, explaining the uses the iPad had been put, and after the school argument, medical uses, and business, they talked about how the iPad has been used by persons with Autism. If you have not seen the video, please do. I teared up, because it was very true, particularly the interview with the parent of a child with Autism. And while I was impressed with the new features, and especially the new software tools, that segment stuck with me. So the iPad, with all it's other benefits, games, apps, and potential, remains one of the most versatile tools for Autism that I have found. Perhaps one day Android will expand their app offerings for Autism and others who struggle with disabilities, but until then the iOS devices are clear winners in my book with their over 300 offerings specifically for Autism.